Well a whole bunch of people asked about it, so here's the story. SPOILER ALERT: its not that exciting. But its a weird one, and it makes me laugh. So here we go! Also, I'm going to use everyone's real names, because its not like this shit is some huge secret. So here we go for real!
I met Jesse Collier my freshman year of high school, because his parents were friends with my mom and her ex-husband. Jessie always seemed like a pretty cool kid. We hung out a lot, our families went to Telluride together a bunch, we had some good times. I never had any romantic feelings for him or anything, but we always had fun when we were together. We went to different high schools, and our senior year he asked me to go to prom at his school.
Guys, the way he asked me to prom was adorable. He showed up at my house with three huge (seriously, these things were massive) balloons, and I think a bouquet of flowers, but I'm not 100% sure. Anyway, he handed me a safety pin and told me to pop the balloons. I did, and a bunch of confetti came out, along with three pieces of paper. When you put the papers together they said "WILL YOU GO TO PROM WITH ME?" SO CUTE. Of course I said yes.
This might sound a little weird considering he killed someone, but prom was an absolute blast. We went out to dinner, went to prom and danced our faces off and ate way too many things dipped into a chocolate fountain, I finally met the Norwegian exchange student who kept going on trips with my family that I wasn't invited on (long story), it was super fun. I really wish that we had gotten a picture, but both of us were like "meh". After prom we went to the after-prom party, which was also awesome. He was a perfect gentleman the entire time. I'm 90% he tried to kiss me when he dropped me off at my house, but I had gotten this gigantic balloon hat at the after party, and it made kissing me impossible. Which was actually a really good thing, because I had no desire to kiss him. Basically the whole night got two thumbs up in my book. This was in April.
A little back story: I'd met the two other kids involved in the murder before. Ben's mom is the birds of prey lady from Camp Colton (fun fact!) and because he, Micah and Jesse were such good friends, I had met them a few times over the years. Let me tell you something, these guys were sketch. Now I know other people who know them and they're all like "no! Micah was like the sweetest guy ever!" and that may be true, but I got some weird vibes from them, so I sort of just stopped hanging out with Jesse after prom, because he spent all of his time with them. Funny enough, this actually caused a lot of drama between me and my mom, because she was all "Hannah you're being rude. He took you to prom. Hang out with him." And I was all "mom his friends are sketch." And she would say "Hannah, Jesse is a good kid. He wouldn't hang out with sketchy people." HA. SHOWS HOW MUCH YOU KNOW, MOM.
So anywho, July rolls around and all of a sudden they find the body of a 16 year old on Woody Mountain road and Jesse, Ben and Micah have all been arrested in connection with the murder. WHAT. I couldn't believe it! As the investigation went on, all these crazy facts started to roll out, like the fact that Jessie and Ben were pretty serious drug dealers and Micah was their drug runner. (FUN FACT: Jessie always had a lot of money. Seriously, the dude was basically a baller. His parents were always like "oh yeah he's super frugal." Everyone else was like "He works for a catering company three days a week. No way he's making that kind of dough." I knew he smoked pot and I figured he was selling a little bit, but I had nooooo idea how far in he was.) So what happened?
Well here's the detailed story, but basically Jessie and Ben sold drugs, and Micah was their runner. Apparently Flagstaff is a lot more drug turfy than I thought, and Micah got the shit kicked out of him and some of his stuff stolen by another drug dealer (Justin, the kid they killed). Jessie and Ben were not particularly pleased with this, so the three of them devised a plan to get even with him. On July 10, 2008 (my 18th birthday, in case anyone was wondering - I had no idea until I started looking up articles) they got super loaded, grabbed a gun, snatched up Justin and drove him out to Woody Mountain road. Then Ben shot him in the back of the head, they emptied his pockets and then drove away. SCARY BANANAS. Technically Justin was on house arrest, so I don't even know what he was doing outside. It was just a really shitty situation for everyone involved.
Originally when they were arrested, all three of them were charged with first degree murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, and possession with intent to distribute. Here is an article about Jesse's sentencing (plus a picture of him. You can put a face to the name!). He was convicted of manslaughter and possession with intent to distribute and was sentenced to 8 and a half years in prison. I don't remember what Ben and Micah ended up being charged with and I'm too lazy too look, but I know that Ben got sentenced to life with a possibility of parole in 25 years, and Micah got 5 years. I think Micah's was actually supposed to be 8, but they took into account the time he had served in jail (Ben and Jesse's parents bailed them out, Micah's didn't).
The most bizarre part of this whole thing was the reaction of Jesse's parents. They're both very sweet people, and they had a really hard time dealing with the whole deal, especially Jesse's mom. They had a welcome home barbecue when they bailed Jesse out of jail, which was weird, but I went because I wanted to be supportive of his family and his mom is a really good cook. He was on house arrest until the trial started, and when he was sentenced to prison his parents threw him a going away barbecue. It was probably the weirdest and most uncomfortable thing that I have ever attended. I went with my mom (again, we wanted to show support and I was starving) and both of us were both like "omg what the hell is happening right now?!" It was like he was going off to camp! Everyone was so cheerful and eating food and I just wanted to be like "umm…..you guys remember a kid died, right? Someone is no longer living on this earth because of some dumbass decisions that Jesse and his dumbass friends made!!!" But that would have been really inappropriate, so I just sort of sat there. Well, I sat there until Jesse's parents handed out little cards they had made with the address of the prison on it in case we wanted to write or go visit. Guys, the cards had flowers on them. FLOWERS. At that point, both my mom and I were like "nope!" and bailed.
That was the last time I saw/had any sort of contact with Jesse, and that's the story of the time I went to prom with a guy who ended up being a super murderous drug dealer.